|One Kick by Chelsea Cain|
Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick's experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…
Much like Chelsea Cain's Archie and Gretchen series, this is not a world that just anyone can enjoy. A little dark and twisted at times, Kick's world is not for the faint of heart. Awful things have happened in her life, things that most people don't survive. But Kick made it through, and she has the emotional scars to show for it. When Bishop enters her life, everything is knocked off balance and Kick is finding herself in even more awful situations that she must endure.
Kick isn't a particularly likable character. That seems like it should go under "The Bad" heading, but honestly, she is a welcome relief from most heroines that can be too saccharine and put together. I think this is becoming a thing for me. Maria Dahvana Headley's Magonia, possibly my favorite read of the past few years, starred a dying girl who wasn't the cliched, even though I am dying I am going to be a huge inspiration to the rest of the world and face my death with a huge smile on my face and peace in my heart nonsense. Likewise, Kick isn't this inspirational survivor who has moved on with her life and is making great strides in crafting this amazing world for herself. She is damaged and coping the only way she knows how, by learning how to incapacitate and kill people in as many ways as humanly possible.
Sound dark? That's not even the beginning of it. Bishop is a character that is similarly not easy to love, and yet, I found myself drawn to him and so excited whenever he would show up in a scene. He is a man with demons of his own, and his own bag of tricks that outnumbers Kick's methods of violence 10 to 1.
And then there's James, Kick's brother who suffers from agoraphobia and panic attacks, and is a genius when it comes to computers and patterns. Of these three characters who get the most face time in the book, James is the one you will feel an overwhelming desire to protect. Unlike Kick, who channeled her abusive childhood into becoming someone that no one could ever again victimize, James is almost helpless in his battle with his demons. You can see how much Kick means to him, and just how much he means to her. Their relationship was one of the better aspects of the book.
One Kick is fast paced and knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat. There is plenty of danger and moments that will make you seethe with anger at the scum that fills Kick's world. There are also some tears in this book, just as Chuck Palahniuk promised in his review. Seriously, if you aren't crying by page 188, there might seriously be something wrong with you. Or you're just a well-adjusted person who doesn't let fictitious things get to them. Really, it's one or the other.
While I did genuinely enjoy the book, there were a couple of things that kept it from being a five star book. One, Kick talks up her own martial prowess a lot in the book. About how many ways she can kill someone with a jacket, or how all of her training means that she can kill someone with her bare hands a hundred different ways. Yet, it seemed like Kick was rendered helpless a lot in the book. She always found her way, but for all of the bravado she touted, I'd have liked for her to be a little more take charge and badass.
Another thing I wasn't a fan of was how Bishop was introduced. The scene just did nothing for me, and I was worried that I wasn't going to like Bishop at all. But of course, he did grow on me very quickly! The third thing that bugged me is a huge spoiler and is what contributed to all of the crying in this book. I don't want to spoil it, but it's rough as heck. Even though you see it coming, and I can even admit that it was a necessary step, I still could have done without it.
Overall, this book was a very fast paced read, and was interesting enough that I hated having to put it down. It reminded me some of how the early Anita Blake books felt, and that leaves me very excited (and a little nervous) about how Kick is going to grow and change in the next few books. Book 2, Kick Back, is scheduled for release in January of 2016.